I remember towards the end of my pregnancy talking with my mom who said to me, “I can’t wait until you’re two weeks postpartum. That’s when things will get better.” I thought she meant physically better and I agreed with her. I had no idea the mental hell I would endure for the first two weeks of Charlotte’s life, and I think that’s because new mothers don’t talk about how horrible the “baby blues” can really be. I think that this post may be one of the most important ones I wanted to write, if only for the fact that I can get all of the feelings I had out in the open.
The “baby blues” affects up to 80% of mothers to varying degrees. It is caused by the physical and emotional changes after childbirth and usually starts 2-3 days after you pop that baby out. I find it amusing that the typical hospital stay for giving birth is 2-3 days. It’s like the hospital knows you’re going to become a fucking mess out of nowhere the second you step foot in your house and they don’t want to deal with what’s coming. That is exactly what happened to me. Eric and I came home from the hospital, we put sleeping Charlotte down and I went to take a nap. I woke up two hours later feeling like someone had taken my body and replaced me with a stranger. My heart was racing, I was sweating but I was freezing, I was actually afraid of my baby and I thought I was going to die. That’s when the tears started, and they didn’t stop for 9 straight days. My hormones dropped so suddenly that even if I wanted to sleep my body wouldn’t let me, so I would lay there exhausted, checking to see if Charlie was breathing and praying she would stay asleep so I wouldn’t have to feed her. This was all just in the first 24 hours of being home from the hospital too. It was a nightmare that I was not expecting.
The second day my mom came to stay with us for a week. If I didn’t have my mother that first week I am fairly certain I would have ended up in the psych ward. My husband was supportive and wonderful with our baby, but there was no way I could explain to him the things I was feeling and I don’t think men can really understand it either. I could barely explain it or understand it myself. My mom had the baby blues pretty bad when she had me, so no explanation was necessary. She knew when I just started hysterical crying for no reason that the only thing to do was hug me and say it would get better. When the panic attacks hit me out of nowhere 30 seconds after I was happy and normal, she would say it will get better. She promised me every day that things would get better even though I was fairly certain my life was over. That was one of the worst parts of this whole ordeal for me, because I always assumed having a baby would be the most loving and joyful experiences of my life, but those first two weeks all I could do was hold her and ask myself “what the fuck did you do, Samantha?! Your life was FINE BEFORE THIS!” Then I would cry and feel guilty. Then she would wake up to eat and I would hold my cracked, bleeding nipples and cry over that. I was hot mess central. One day I actually cried so hard that a pimple on my face popped all by itself! Having a baby really is miraculous.
Once the ravaged war zone that was my nether regions began to slowly heal and my boobs stopped being engorged rocks and started to become normal milk machines, I started to feel better mentally. I had 9 straight days of the blues, and then one day I woke up and the panic attacks and crying fits were gone. That’s not to say I don’t still get overwhelmed with my new life. I mean my sole purpose in life now is to keep another human being alive. I am her only source of food at the moment, so that’s enough of a responsibility to set me into overwhelmed overdrive. Just last night, when she refused to let me put her down or even sit down while holding her, I had that “dear Lord what did I do?” feeling again. But now I can work through it without crumbling into a mess. But I think it is important for women out there to know that it is TOTALLY OKAY to let the blues take over and turn you into a mess. It’s not our fault, there is nothing we can do about it, and we are all going to be okay. I had my mom, grandmas, and tons of other new moms to reach out to when I felt like I was going to lose my shit, and that support system meant so much to me. Since becoming a mom it’s only reinforced the fact that women are fucking warriors. When we come together and support one another there is really nothing we can’t do. Now if you;ll excuse me, I have to go clean vomit off my child.